21 Oct 2003

Labasa mayor says ferries are too old

5:13 pm on 21 October 2003

The Fiji interisland ferry service to the northern division is down to 25-percent of its normal capacity, after the sinking last month of one of its ships and the sidelining of two more for maintenance.

Four ferries normally service the second island of Vanua Levu but now only one is operating.

The mayor of Labasa, Charan Jeath Singh, says the problem is that the ships are too old when they are first bought by the ferry companies.

"Ferries that they use in this country are almost 25 or 30 years old by the time they reach Fiji and then they are given a very thorough bashing on our open seas here. We would like to actually see here that there are more modern ferries that could come in rather than the old junk that are put in which are more-or-less discarded in their original country."

The mayor of Labasa, Charan Jeath Singh.

Meanwhile, Trevor Patterson, the director of Patterson Shipping Company, which owns the ferry that sank, refused to discuss the incident or reveal the age of the ship.